Finding: Early and ongoing cooperation with dialogue among users, developers of satellite remote sensing hardware and software, and U.S. and international research and operational satellite data providers is essential for the rapid and successful utilization of environmental satellite data. Active research and development is required to achieve operational sustainability—today’s research anticipates and underpins the satisfaction of tomorrow’s operational requirements. Many of the greatest environmental satellite data utilization success stories (see, e.g., the case study on the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts in Appendix D) have a common theme: the treatment of research and operations as a continuum, with a relentless team focus on excellence with the freedom to continuously improve and evolve.

Recommendation 10: To ensure the ongoing development of future operational environmental satellite data products that have high quality and value requires an ongoing evaluation of the U.S. effort to collect and provide environmental satellite data. An integrated, sustainable basis for the stewardship of future operational systems, sensors, and algorithms should be fostered by establishing close cooperation between the research and operational agencies responsible for the utilization of environmental satellite data (including their development, collection, processing and reprocessing, validation, distribution, and exploitation), with research and operations viewed as a continuum and not as two independent areas of effort. To meet evolving customer requirements, this cooperation between research and operational agencies should be coordinated in close partnership with the user community. Only a fully funded, end-to-end system, from satellite/sensor design to data assimilation/utilization, can fully optimize the investments that have been made.

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